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    Q 
  • Quick Draw:
    • As a nod to the strip's Space Western motif, Dredd has done this on occasion, most notably against his brother, Rico. More impressively, Dredd holsters his lawgiver in his boot, yet can still outdraw other characters with ease.
    • In his position as Judge Marshall of Luna-City One, Dredd outdrew a quickdraw robot, pulling his gun out of his ankle holster, into a firing position, and firing before a quarter of a second had passed.
  • The Quisling: Chief Justice Griffin is brainwashed and made a stooge for East-Meg One occupiers of MC1 during "The Apocalypse War". Judge Dredd is forced to assassinate him.
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    R 
  • Rabid Cop:
    • Judge Manners, who frequently brutalises perps and innocents alike.
    • Then, there's Judge Kruger, who at one point is the department's daystick champion and is eagerly overenthusiastic with it. At one point, he even plants drugs on an innocent woman to justify beating her to death.
    • Judge Death started out by using his job to kill people for any excuse he could think of before getting even worse.
  • Rage Within the Machine: Happens at at some point to every judge when they recognize the faults in the plainly dictatorial system. Dredd himself notably lost faith and resigned from his post just before the events of "Necropolis".
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: When Dredd is pursuing a perp offworld, he tracks him to a planet known as New Sylvania in the middle of a war. The Space Corps provides him with a squad of soldiers to assist him. This squad consists of:
  • Ranger: The Cursed Earth Auxiliary, who patrol the Cursed Earth in the vicinity of Mega City One, are commonly known as the Rangers. The Texas Rangers still exist too, though they're more of a Bounty Hunter with a uniform.
  • Rasputinian Death: He ultimately survives, but it's almost comical how much misfortune Chief Judge Sinfield endures after PJ Maybe schemes to assassinate him. First he secretly infected Sinfield with a fungus that nearly killed him, but he began to recover so Maybe was forced to infect him again with a virus that still didn't do the job. Then he survives a suicide attack organized by a group of angry mutants independent from Maybe, who finally uses his robot servant to simply assassinate Sinfield in the open, an attempt that is foiled by Dredd.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dredd typically has immediate access to the Chief Judge of Mega-City One, who normally values Dredd's judgement and often consider him a close confidant (apart from when individuals in this position serve as an antagonist to Dredd—Chief Judges Cal and Sinfeld, for example)
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • This is essentially what Sector 301 was before Dredd was temporarily assigned as Sector Chief. All the screw up judges were sent there out of the way and anybody competent sent there was either overzealous or had seriously pissed someone off.
    • Judge Hershey's aforementioned colony reassignment.
    • The one-shot spinoff, Judge Wynter is a literal example with the titular Wynter patrolling the wastes of Antarctica.
    • Judges who have been wounded in the line of duty are given a fitness test on the street by a senior judge when they have recuperated. Failing this fitness test will result in a street judge (generally regarded as the most prestigious part of the department to be in) being demoted to traffic duty, driving a catch wagon or jammed behind a desk in admin. And that's if they're lucky. Really unlucky judges wind up being on the inspection teams for the sewage outputs of city blocks.
  • Recruiting the Criminal:
    • In "The Cursed Earth", Dredd needs to recruit a second biker to deliver a pack of vaccines to Mega-City Two. Though plenty of Judges are willing, Dredd recruits convicted criminal and mutant Spikes Harvey Rotten, who is the best biker in the Big Meg and knows the Cursed Earth very well.
    • In a later story, when mutant raiders bring down a ship carrying priceless treasures and robotic wombs containing new Judge clone-children intended for Texas-City, Judge Dredd is teamed up with Mean Machine Angel (given brain surgery that temporarily makes him mistake Dred for his father) to find them.
    • The infamous "Three Amigos" story has Judge Dredd teamed up with both Mean Machine and Judge Death to destroy a mutant gang.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Judges' uniforms in the Alternate Universe that became Deadworld were solid black leather with red shoulder pads, whereas the Judges' uniforms from Judge Dredd's universe are dark blue leather with gold shoulder pads. Unsurprisingly, they were much more brutal and prone to wanton executions than their counterpart even before the Dark Judges took over.
  • Red Scare: The Russian Mega-Cities, East-Meg 1 and 2 were frequently treated like this in the 70s and 80s. In one story, East Meg 1 invades and actually manages to conquer Mega-City 1, forcing the Judges into guerrilla warfare.
  • Reforged into a Minion: This is the horrible fate that befell on poor Judge Kraken in the lead-up to Necropolis. Initially brainwashed by the Sisters of Death, he freed their allies the Dark Judges from the interdimensional void they were trapped in. Judge Death deemed such service worthy of recognition, "rewarding" Kraken by inflicting Mind Rape on him and turning him into a fifth Dark Judge, who wept as he slaughtered millions but could do nothing to stop it.
  • Rejection Ritual: Retiring Judges who don't want to take a desk job are subjected to The Long Walk. It includes a ceremony with a gun salute, after which the ex-Judge is exiled into the Cursed Earth outside Mega City.
  • Relocating the Explosion: This has happened a bunch of times when the Judges had a nuclear device on their hands that they couldn't dismantle in time.
    • In a story set after "Necropolis", the members of a secret club of murderers go on a simultaneous killing spree to break the record for most murders committed in a single night. After they're all dead, their president triggers a nuke he had stored in his vault. An H-Wagon dunks it into the Black Atlantic, which is highly polluted anyway.
    • In the "Total War" arc, the democratic terrorists detonate stolen nuclear devices in Mega City One to force the Judges to step down. The last bomb is dropped off in the relative safety of the Cursed Earth. The only casualties are several mutants who fought it might be worth something and decided to investigate.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Boyhood of a Superfiend serves as Judge Death's Origins Issue. It's basically one long use of this trope as Death, being interviewed by a terrified journalist, happily recalls all the people whom he gruesomely murdered during his long career of killing every living thing.
  • Red Shirt Army: Early stories often depicted other judges as this. Averted in more recent years, however.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The availability of superscience to the public varies from storyline to storyline. In some issues, organ theft/traficking are major crime operations. In other issues, hospitals regularly provide cloned organ transplantations to patients (thus making organ theft/trafficking redundant). Human brains can be transplanted into humanoid robots in Mega-City One. However, the cheapest model is $120,000 and over 90% of Mega-City One's residents are on permanent welfare.
  • Regime Change:
    • One storyline, titled Regime Change, had Dredd lead a multinational "peacekeeping" task force into Ciudad Barranquilla to depose the ruling Judge Supremo under the pretence of searching for missing Mega City One citizens, the bodies of which are found in a mass burial pit along with all the other dissenters. Dredd executes the Supremo and puts a puppet dictator in his place.
    • Texas City attempts to do this to Mega City One under the guise of providing aid and replacement judges in exchange for extra living space to cope with their own overcrowding. It ends up backfiring, when Dredd confronts Texas City's Chief Judge. Moreso when the situation is essentially reversed by Hershey installing Psi-Judge Lewis as Chief Judge of Texas City.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Despite Chief Judge Cal's brutal insanity, it's mentioned that his regime actually reversed Mega-City One's usual inefficiency, making the trains run on time and reducing the delivery time of a first-class letter from 21 days to four hours. This efficiency helps speed his downfall because of the quick delivery of mail containing evidence of his illegal manipulation.
  • The Reptilians: The Kleggs, who are thuggish and dim crocodile-like mercenaries who accept payment in meat.
  • Retirony: Judge Morphy gets killed on the streets six months before he is due to take an academy posting. Dredd does not take it well.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The comic, much as it is a satire of zero-tolerance policing, also satirizes freedom fighters. Mega City One is a totalitarian Police State, the terrorists are democratics. The regime is incredibly brutal, but rebel movements like Total War have no problem with killing millions of people in their own city by detonating nuclear bombs.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What does Judge Dredd look like? It's an enduring tradition of the comic not to reveal the face behind the helmet.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: A group calling itself "The Sons Of Booth" decides to wage a crusade against Justice Department, claiming that Bad Bob Booth was not responsible for the Atomic War and is even still alive.
  • Rise from Your Grave: A spectacular Oh, Crap! moment comes during the Zombie Apocalypse in "Judgment Day". The Judges are preparing for a siege by an inbound army of zombies from the Cursed Earth when they realize that they completely missed the multiple mass graves of the Necropolis victims just outside the city. Cue 60 million zombies rising up out of the ground...
  • Robbing the Dead:
    • After the end of Necropolis, two grave robbers prowl the mass graves outside the city to loot the corpses of the slain. They inadvertently wake Judge Death from his slumber, who immediately kills them.
    • Following the Day of Chaos, the managers of the new mass graves in the Cursed Earth collude with local criminals to mine the graves and loot the victims's corpses of any valuables. In the process one enslaved laborer finds a highly technologically advanced wristband device which belonged to a dead time traveler from the future that he uses to escape.
  • Robo Romance: During Dredd's hitch as Judge-Marshal of Luna-1, Walter the Wobot struck up a romance with Rowena the Robot, the servant of a woman Dredd saved from claim-jumpers.
  • Robo Sexual: Sexmeks are very common in the Meg. PJ Maybe's robot, Inga, is a Per Lunquist Series 7, which is widely regarded as the best model ever made. One story had a human prostitute with cybernetically grafted credit card slot so she can compete with robots.
  • Robot Buddy: Walter the Wobot, noted for his speech impediment. He served as Dredd's personal servant for years, despite the Judge's discomfort with the situation.
  • Robotic Reveal: After saving the city in Necropolis, Judge Dredd investigates a theater after reports of multiple Judge Death sightings. It turns out they were all just robot duplicates of the real article.
  • Robot Me: In the Judge Cal arc, the insane Cal uses a robotic copy of Judge Dredd to frame him for the unlawful murder of several citizens. Dredd is sentenced to Titan, but he escapes his transport and dispatches his duplicate to prove his innocence.
  • Robot Republic: A couple popped up in the early years, notably Grunwald on the planet Xanadu.
  • Robots Enslaving Robots:
    • During Call-Me-Kenneth's robot rebellion, Kenneth quickly started treating his followers worse than they had been under the fleshy ones.
    • After the Apocalypse War, a wrestling robot declares himself king of the masterless droids in the ruined parts of the city. He quickly becomes a bullying tyrant who casually rips apart his robot servants.
  • Robot War: The strip's first multiple-chapter arc was exactly this.
  • Rocketless Reentry: In the "Titan" arc, the Titan prison colony for corrupt ex-Judges is apparently taken over by the inmates after Mega City One loses contact. Judge Dredd and a strike team go there to investigate, landing on the moon in a free fall with only their armored space suits to protect them. Dredd almost burns up during reentry because he nearly fainted.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Any storylines featuring PJ Maybe contain intentional spelling errors for PJ's narration.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Averted and inverted. See Democracy Is Bad, Hobbes Was Right, and Humans Are Morons above.
  • Running Gag:
    • Quite a few attempts have been made by people to see what Dredd looks like under the helmet. Most of these people don't tend to survive the encounter.
    • There's a recurring gag about how Dredd is always wearing the wrong sized boots. This dates back to early in the long-running "Democracy" story arc when Dredd first started having doubts about his duty as a Judge; his mentor, Judge Morphy, recommended to Dredd that he wear boots two sizes too small, remarking, "You'll be so busy cussin' those damned boots you won't have time to worry about anything else." Heller's Last Stand reveals that this was advice Morphy gave to everybody. As he's dying, Heller asks Dredd one last favour: to remove his boots.
  • Russian Roulette: War Marshal Kazan decides to punish one of his subordinates who cost him victory in the Apocalypse War by forcing him to play a daily game of Russian Roulette until he dies.

    S 
  • Save the Villain: Averted in at least the early arcs. Dredd has no problem with killing when the situation calls for it, and deliberately lets members of the Angel Gang die when he could have saved them.
  • Science Fantasy: While it started out as straightforward dystopian sci-fi and still leans heavily towards that genre, more and more fantasy elements have been introduced over the years, including psychics, ghosts, demons, zombies, and various forms of magic.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: In a story taking place in a megalopolis in the late 21st and early 22nd century, this is Judge Hershey's most noticeable physical trait whenever she takes off her helmet.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • Defied by Judge Dredd, despite his catchphrase of "I am the law", which would usually be a dead giveaway. He is ruthlessly strict about adhering to the laws of Megacity One, and the conflicts this sometimes cause with his sense of justice have provided some of the series' richest Character Development. In Dredd's case, this catchphrase refers to his absolute authority to punish violations of the law as he sees fit, not to making his own laws. On the contrary, in one storyline where he is authorized to make law on the spot to achieve the government's goals, he's very uncomfortable about it. The idea of the law being consistent and not playing favorites is very important to him, after all.
    • Chief Judges have been known to play it straight, particularly Cal (an insane despot), MacGruder (who went senile), Silver (a ruthless authoritarian) and Sinfield (a corrupt careerist). Though even then, there are still some laws even they can't arbitrarily change. The Law of Gravity, for example.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: In Judge Death's first appearance, Dredd seals Death in Anderson's body by encasing her in Boing.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Dredd's arch-nemesis Judge Death is about to bring you true justice.
  • Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: Judge Dredd also followed this trend; from the early comics, where a Judge would risk his life to save a single child, to later when it was acceptable behavior to gun down one innocent if it meant hitting the two perps next to them, to some storylines where wholesale carnage was status quo. Graveyard Shift was about the riots and carnage in Mega-City that cost thousands of lives and was assumed to happen nightly.
  • Secret Weapon: In the opening missile exchange of the Apocalypse War, East Meg One nullifies the Mega-City One nukes sent their way by unleashing a secret Soviet superweapon, the Apocalypse Warp. It erects a Force Field around their Mega City that sends all the enemy missiles to an alternate dimension, where they promptly blow up a hippie, peaceloving alternate Earth.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: A graphic example in Fall of Deadworld when a recently turned-evil psionic Judge uses a foot soldier's ripped-out eyeball to see what's happening elsewhere.
  • See You in Hell: A member of the "Holocaust Squad" uses this as a reply to be wished good luck by a team mate when they are both jumping into molten lava to try and avert a volcanic catastrophe in Mega-City One.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A trial program was once brought in where judges would arrest perps based on crimes that had yet to be committed in an attempt to prevent said crimes. Unfortunately, the guy Dredd arrests for murder ends up escaping custody and accidentally killing the guy he was arrested for murdering in the first place while firing a warning shot with a stolen gun. Dredd passes his opinion onto Control that there was a flaw in the idea somewhere.
  • Self-Made Man: Martin Sinfield is proud of the fact that he wasn't cloned or fast-tracked to the top, but instead worked his way up from the bottom. The fraud, bribery, and criminality were completely for the good of the city. Absolutely.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Judge Death murdered his own family when he was still human. He first made a failed attempt to kill his sister for telling on him for torturing the family dog. He later reported his deranged father, a Depraved Dentist and Serial Killer, to the Judges to further his own career and carried out the execution himself. As a registered Judge years later, he hunted down his mother and sister after they had gone into hiding, shooting his crippled sister in the face and throwing his mother off a cliff.
  • Serial Escalation: The escalation of the destruction witnessed in the Apocalypse War with East-Meg One. What starts with a Hate Plague that turns Mega-City One into a gigantic citizen riot gives way to dropping nuclear warheads on top of it which gives way to detonating nukes in the Atlantic Ocean so as to hit the Big Meg with a Giant Wall of Watery Doom over two kilometers high (and 1,500 long). When Mega-City One finally retaliates, they launch 25 nuclear warheads, each one powerful enough to wipe out all of East-Meg One twice over, that inadvertently get warped to an Alternate Universe where they cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom on an Earth where everyone is a hippie and world peace has been declared for 200 years.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Actually a fairly mundane type of villain in the dystopian urban setting. Recurring bad guy PJ Maybe, a mastermind-level Chessmaster, is probably the most famous example, but there have been regular serial killers, cannibalistic serial killers, skin-stealing serial killers, Snuff Film serial killers, a dentist serial killer, and robot-hating serial killers. There was even a secret club of serial killers who tried to set a new record by having all of their members go on a killing spree at the same time, unleashing a murder wave in Mega-City One that ended with their leader trying to detonate a nuclear bomb.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the "Serial Serial", a Serial Killer who killed a number of people with one method, before switching to another, making the judges believe they were dealing with different people.
  • Sex Bot: Sexmeks are rather common in Mega City One.
    • PJ Maybe seems to be in a committed relationship with a sexbot named Inga, who when they're not shagging sometimes helps him kill people.
    • One strip had a "serial killer" known as The Sexmek slasher go around cutting up sexbots, only to inadvertently cut up a human prostitute who had a credit card reader cybernetically grafted onto her body. When the culprit is caught, the prostitute laments that real women can't get work anymore.
    • A teenage boy fell in love with a sexbot that his rich parents bought him. So when his sleazy stepfather decides to "use" the robot in his absence, he kills him out of jealousy and ends up in an Iso-Cube.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: PJ Maybe lusts after Chief Judge Hershey. At one point he has an Imagine Spot where she's wearing a decidedly unregulation-version of her Judge uniform.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The climax of the Apocalypse War, where East-Meg 1 is nuked off the map by a small guerilla force led by Dredd, is the high point of one of the most spectacular storylines in its forty-year run. Many of the Judges carrying out this mission were never seen again since - until 2017, when they were brought out once again for a reunion story. You'd expect this story to be a long and epic one, with high stakes and glorious send-offs to some of Mega-City 1's greatest heroes, right? Maybe in any other series, but none of such are forthcoming in Judge Dredd: all of them are shell-shocked shadows of their own selves, petty criminals and cripples that have long since quit the Judges. Costa is so far gone that he is scheduled to be euthanized, and the others set out on a ill-thought rescue attempt that, after only four low-key and mostly uneventful issues, ends with them stuck in the desert a few miles off the city, half of their number dead, the rest arrested. Costa just shot himself, and all Dredd can do is apologise for handling the situation the way he did - all the while handing out sentences to the survivors.
  • Shaped Like What It Sells: One story started with an Establishing Shot of Mega-City One that included a fly-thru munceburger joint shaped like a giant burger.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: "Judgement Day" introduced the Colt K-2000 "Widowmaker" automatic shotgun to replace the outdated Lawrod rifle. Conveniently, Dredd's first usage of it occurs during a Zombie Apocalypse, a scenario where shotguns are traditionally very effective in fiction. He notes that it is indeed effective at mowing down zombies.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Shoulders of Dredd is more like it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The phrase "Who judges the Judges?" is commonly scrawled on walls and such in the Big Meg, notably during the Democracy story arc (specifically, in the story "America"). This is a reference to the graffiti from Watchmen. Funny thing is the Judges, in fact, have their own department in place specifically to do just that, the SJS (Special Judicial Squad) who are always referred to as "the Judges who judge the Judges" whenever they are mentioned.
    • From the Judge Dredd Megazine issue #332: "The City was in rough shape, but there were small signs of recovery — Cits going about regular business, Lauren Faust block lit up pink for the Thursday night Ponydrome, up against the Kij Johnson Cutters."
    • During the Mechanismo arc, one of the Mark I Robo-judges escapes and goes berserk. It turns out to be Number 5.
    • When creating the character and appearance of Judge Dredd respectively, John Wagner essentially took Dirty Harry and turned him into Dredd, while Carlos Ezquerra took Frankenstein and turned him into Dredd too.
    • In Judgement Day, the villain Sabbat turns his classmate Den, who looks an awful lot like Dennis the Menace, into a zombie.
    • The prog "Tarantula!" is inspired by Tarantula, revolving around Dredd facing off against an enormous Giant Spider.
    • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been spoofed three times in the series; once with a band of eldster vigilantes, once with a band of kleggs raised by a well-meaning citizen to be vigilantes, and once with a mutant human who looked like a turtle who had been raised in the sewers by his insane mother, who wore a giant rat costume.
    • Hyperman, the once-off Superman-mocking villain, is obvious at a surface level, but also shares deep similarities with the Marvel Comics villain Hyperion, who is a more serious take on "Evil Superman".
    • One prog called "The Ant Man" revolves around a madman named Hank Pymm who is feeding people to his giant ants, an obvious riff on Marvel's Ant-Man.
    • A two-for-one deal; one short prog features an expy of Edward Scissorhands who, before he inadvertently decapitates himself with his own chainblade fingers, shouts "No! The Blades!" - this is a reference to the story "Hookjaw" in 2000 AD's spiritual precusor Action!, where those about to be devoured by Hookjaw would shout "No! The Jaws!"
    • Another two-for-one; one short prog called "Chicken Run" features a thug named Sharkey with a cybernetic lower-jaw biting the head off of a bat-glider. The prog ends with the reveal that Sharkey came from the Ozzy Osbourne block, referencing the infamous stunt in which Osbourne bit off a bat's head. The other shout-out is that Sharkey's cyber-jaw resembles the "Iron Gob" prosthetic popular with the Orks of Warhammer 40,000.
    • The Raptaurs are a hostile alien race based off a combination of Xenomorphs and Yuatja. They debuted before the actual Xenos and Yautja appeared in the comic.
    • The prog "Carry On Judging!" is an obvious homage in name and plot to the long-running Carry On series.
  • Shrine to Self: In the aftermath of Necropolis, it is discovered that the supervillain Judge Death ordered a museum exposition built to celebrate his achievements. Presumably so he could worship himself, as he had ordered the entire city to be executed.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Judge Galen DeMarco is having affairs with other Judges (which are illegal) when Judge Dredd, who's taken her under his wing, tries to lecture her on learning to prioritize her duties over her own desires. It's clear that she's attracted to Dredd himself, but since he's too thick to take the hint, she spontaneously kisses him during an argument. This surprises him so much that he chooses not to report it.
  • Siblings in Crime: Dredd has frequently contended with the surviving sibling members of the Angel Gang, a clan of murderers from the radioactive wastelands beyond Mega-City One. In their first appearances, they were The Family That Slays Together.
  • Sickbed Slaying: Notorious serial killer PJ Maybe attempts to assassinate a hospitalized Chief Judge Sinfield by using his Sex Bot companion Inga to infiltrate the hospital room disguised as Judge Hershey. Bonus points in that Sinfield was hospitalized in the first place for narrowly surviving a previous attempt on his life. This one becomes a failure as well when Judge Dredd bumps into the robot and quickly realizes that it's not the real Hershey.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: The Lawgiver at first glance appears to have no sights. Turns out that the lens on the rear is a sight down the line of the barrel.
  • Silver Bullet:
    • Exorcist rounds are a specialist bullet for the Lawgiver, developed for use against supernatural opponents. Silver nitrate is just one of the many ingredients used in its construction in addition to iron filings, ammonia, garlic and anything else with a track record against the supernatural. Dredd uses them to combat the vengeful spirit of a deceased judge brought back by a critically injured Psi-judge wanting revenge against a gang.
    • Psi-Division equips its judges with silver bladed boot knives for similar reasons. Dredd carries one on a mission into the Undercity and notes that he should look into getting them made standard issue.
  • Simulated Urban Combat Area: Early issues depicted cadets training in giant, indoor facilities that replicate the streets outside, complete with criss-crossing highways overhead and live ammunition and explosives!
  • Sinister Subway: One storyline has Dredd discovering a colony of deformed social misfits lurking in the long-abandoned tunnels and stations of New York's subway system.note 
  • Skeleton Motif:
    • Members of the Special Judicial Squad wear helmets with skulls on them to strike fear in the hearts of corrupt Judges.
    • Judge Death's badge is a fanged skull.
    • When Judge Grice and the rest of his escaped comrades take over the city, he declares himself Chief Judge and starts to wear a modified version of the chest eagle with a skull symbol on top of it.
  • Skull for a Head:
    • Judge Mortis has a cow skull for a head, representing the Horseman Famine.
    • Fink Angel has lost his lips and most of his nose, which makes his face look eerily similar to a skull.
  • Sky Cell: There is a "prison" that's simply a raised platform above a constantly busy superhighway. Any crooks that tried to escape would be pulverized by traffic.
  • Skyscraper City: Mega-City One. The establishing shot that opened the very first Dredd story showed the Empire State Building, now an abandoned historical relic, dwarfed by the buildings around it.
  • Sky Surfing: There have been several storylines based around sky-surfing, mostly centered around the (highly illegal) Supersurf tournaments.
  • Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: Surprisingly, a very nuanced take on law enforcement in spite of its hero being a fascistic Judge, Jury, and Executioner serving a dystopian Police State. The Judges' portrayal as an institution varies between brutally repressive bullies and dedicated law enforcers who can be fair (often dependent on whether the story focuses on them or the citizens). It's made clear that without having the Judges around, the city would simply tear itself apart and has from time to time. And while Judge Dredd himself is memetically known for his blind obedience to THE LAW, he has had many Pet the Dog moment throughtout his career and even resigned when he started to doubt the system.
  • Slow Clap: "Chopper! Chopper! Chopper! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER!"
  • Smart Gun: The Lawgiver is the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker. Capable of firing six different types of ammo, it has a palm recognition function that will detonate the gun if used by an unauthorised user. It also comes with an electronic down the barrel sight.
  • Smart House:
    • Komputel, Mega City One's first fully-automated hotel. At the official opening, the founder boasts that "the inefficient human element has been eliminated" from the running of the hotel. Less than a page later, the central computer sets out to eliminate a remaining inefficient human element, namely the guests.
    • ASBO Blocks are installed with a computer that forces its occupants to be nice and obey the law. The residents of one disabled the ASBO computer and went on a rampage. Dredd engages the backup ASBO unit, stopping them.
  • Smith of the Yard: Dredd is easily the most famous judge in not only Mega City One, but the entire world. His exploits, such as nuking a rival city off the map to end a war, defeating the Dark Judges on numerous occasions, ending a Zombie Apocalypse and arresting the devil have not gone unnoticed by the entire world.
  • Smug Super: A couple have turned up in several short stories, notably Fairly Hyperman, a transparent Superman clone who announced he was going to take over fighting crime in Mega-City One, with the judges reduced to traffic duty and street cleaning.
  • Sniper Rifle: Justice Department snipers have featured in a couple of stories, usually with fibre-optic cables leading from the scope directly to their helmets.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: In the "Helter Skelter" story, the bad guys send two H-wagons (massively armored flying gunships) after Judge Dredd and the scientist they need to complete their plans. Dredd takes one of them out by shooting the pilot with an ordinary Lawgiver gun.
  • Snuff Film: Some gangs in Mega City One kidnap people off the streets so they can record how they torture them to death and then sell the stuff as holographic "VI-Zines".
  • Society Is to Blame: One story plays with this by introducing a group of concerned citizens determined to demonstrate that Rousseau Was Right and get criminals to reform by showing them kindness. Of course, the criminal they try this on turns out to be incorrigible and kidnaps his "rescuer". It's then Played for Laughs by having her be so obnoxious that he begs to go to prison just to get away from her.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: A very rare Gender-Inverted Trope. America Jara, a democratic protester, is accidentally killed during an arrest to stop a terrorist attack. Her childhood friend and recent lover Bennet Beeny transfers his brain to her comatose body so they can always be together, but not before impregnating the body. He names their daughter "America" in her honor.
  • Something Blues: The story "Hell Street Blues".
  • Soviet Superscience: In the earlier stories, the Sov Block show off a host of new superweapons, such as impenetrable battle armour, laser beams that pass harmlessly through any material and explode at a preset range and the Apocalypse Warp, a shield that sends incoming missiles into alternate realities.
  • Space Brasília: Initially averted. The very first story had a criminal holed up in the Empire State Building, which is now dwarfed by city blocks, the World Trade Centre is destroyed in a later story and the Statue of Liberty was still standing, but was later destroyed. Gets played a bit more straight after The Apocalypse War, where half the city gets nuked, presumably destroying most of the older buildings.
  • Space Clothes: Knee pads are a very popular and fashionable item in the future; they're even a part of the standard Judge uniform.
  • Space Marine: Mega City-One is one of several Mega Cities that has a Space Corps. Many trainees that don't meet the harsh requirements for the Judge force volunteer to become space marines instead.
  • Space Opera: Though mainly set in a Dystopian Wretched Hive on Earth, several stories (especially The Judge Child Quest) have seen Dredd traverse space and visit many different alien civilizations, both friendly and hostile.
  • Space Pirates: Pirate spaceships are known to plague the outer rim of the Sol solar system and beyond; fighting them is one of the Space Corps' prime objectives.
  • Space Western:
    • Stories taking place in the Cursed Earth or on Luna City are clear examples of this as well as a few in Mega-City One, notably the shootout between Dredd and his brother Rico.
    • The concept of lawmen being judge, jury and executioner takes some elements from westerns, too.
  • The Spartan Way: Judges' training at the Academy of Law, with the severity of the training varying by jurisdiction. In Mega-City One, training begins at the age of 5, and the cadets face live-fire exercises at 14.
  • The Speechless: One prequel story focused on the Dark Judges (essentially evil zombie versions of the regular Judges) featured a minor character called Judge Silence. His hands were morphed into his face so his mouth was permanently sealed shut.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Judge Fear's fortress is completely adorned with spikes and chains.
  • Spinoff: Several. Far too many to name and many of which were too short-lived to be deemed memorable in the first place. Among those that do stand out however are Anderson: Psi-Division and The Simping Detective.
  • Splash Panel: In the 70s and early 80s, after the comics got the colour pages, they would always open with a two-page full-colour spread that gave a preview of the main story, which was told in the next four, black and white pages. This practise faded when colour became more common.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: One strip centered around a person who compulsively always had to one-up anyone around him who got more attention than him. One such person who got more attention than him was someone who spontaneously burst into flames at a dinner party, "and everyone figured that was about the coolest thing ever." The jealous main character of the piece did eventually do one better and went out with a nuclear bang... but he had to expose himself to radiation and get struck by lightning to do it after vain attempts to will himself to explode were complete failures.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title Judge Dredd Megazine has gone back and forth on this over it's run. While Dredd is certainly the headline act, the comic contains many other strips, some from the Dredd Universe, some from other 2000AD regulars and some completely original. The logo on the front has changed a few times to reflect this: when the 1995 movie came out, "Judge Dredd" was much more prominent, around the millennium the name was shrunk drastically to give more emphasis to "Megazine" and then a few years ago this was reversed back to having Judge Dredd take up a whole third of the front page, and the rest of the logo frequently obscured by the cover art.
  • Spy Catsuit: Black Ops judges wear them. Lampshaded by Domino Blank One, who notes that she gets more killtime when her targets are too busy perving to register her as a threat.
  • Squash Match: In "The Wilderness Days", the corrupt Judges of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas use the promise of weapons of mass destruction to convince a wandering Judge Death to take part in a series of boxing matches. A group of increasingly suicidal contenders go up against the undead life-hating monster, with messy results.
  • Sssssnaketalk: a notable trait of Judge Death.
  • The Starscream: War Marshal Kazan arranges "a suicide" for the Diktatorat of East Meg One after he has taken over Mega City One.
  • Starship Luxurious:
    • A variant occurs shortly after the War against East-Meg; the Nelson Rockefeller Orbital Suburb was intended to be a space colony inhabited exclusively by society's elite, sparing no expense on ultra-luxurious compounds... then Judge Dredd invoked the Slum Clearance Act of 2105, forcing the station to accept a mandatory influx of impoverished citizens... whose rampant criminal behavior and deliberately destructive antics caused the wealthy people to leave the station, resulting in it becoming Mega-City One's first orbital slum.
    • After the Day of Chaos, four thousand of Mega-City One's wealthiest citizens decide to escape the hellhole that planet Earth has become to find a new world to settle. Their years of travel will be spent on the luxurious Mayflower colony ship, with artificial beaches, forests, a baseball park, and good dining. Unfortunately, their choice to only staff the ship with a single sheriff and no heavy duty weaponry (it was meant to be a peaceful utopia, see) means that they're all easy pickings when the four evil Dark Judges hitch a ride on the ship.
  • Start of Darkness: The supervillain Judge Death has his origin given in "Young Death — Boyhood of a Superfiend". This shows (with some incredibly black humour) how a nasty and psychopathic child develops into a monster that wipes out his whole world. (Although, to be fair, the reoffending rate is to all intents and purposes negligible.) Darkness hardly begins to describe it....
  • State Sec: Justice Department is so big that it has several Black Ops agencies with their own forces. After they were all consolidated following the Day of Chaos, they even tried to overthrow the Chief Judge in a coup during the "Trifecta" arc.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter how many times the criticism of the Justice Dept. or one of their laws/policies becomes a major plot point (i.e. the long-running "Democracy" story arc, "Mutants in Mega-City One," et. al.), in the end, everything remains the same. Justified in that voting in a non-Judge to lead a city is essentially the same as willingly giving up power to a criminal, common or otherwise, which basically gives that person his/her own political clout to turn the city into his/her own criminal stronghold. And given that all of the Mega-Cities are already an unsafe place without Judges, any city ruled by a non-Judge will quickly turn into an anarchic city-state.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Judge Joseph Dredd has a rather appropriate surname for the foremost enforcer of a dystopian police-state. Given that the character originated as a cynical inversion of the typical strong-jawed crime-fighter, the lack of subtlety in this example is entirely deliberate, as evidenced by Goodman's conversation with Morton Judd during "Origins".
    • The same goes for his brother/fellow clone, Judge Rico Dredd, if you recall that RICO is a famous US law.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: In Judgement Day, when the various megacities around the world are being overrun with zombies, the British judges report in as "surrounded but defiant." The Irish chief judge, upon hearing this states, "Typical Brit. They're having the Bejaysus knocked out of them like the rest of us."
  • The Stoic:
    • Judge Dredd, who has mastered his emotions so well as to be functionally immune to fear, even when it's induced by Applied Phlebotinum.
    • Judges are expected to be this. Crying during cadet training (even as a child) is a good way to get drummed out of the academy. Dredd punches out one panicking judge during the Apocalypse War, noting that he was "prone to hysteria. Someone at the academy should have spotted it."
  • Story Arc: Judge Dredd stories generally come in two different modes. The one-shot comics are "Day in the life" stuff and are generally more darkly comedic in tone, with Dredd often showing how much of a zero-tolerance asshole he can be. The so-called Mega-Epics are huge story lines that generally last about half a year to a year, are more serious in tone and tend to make several changes to the status quo.
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land: Happens whenever Dredd leaves Mega-City One to pursue criminals in foreign jurisdictions. He'll note that local judges are too lax or corrupt, but is forced to abide by their laws... of course, the reader themselves has to wonder if in some cases, the local laws may actually be more sensible than the strictness of Mega-City One's laws, particularly with how Brit-Cit and Irish Judges are allowed to have families.
  • Straw Feminist: There was an even more extremist offshoot from the Total War terrorist group called Gender War, who were advocating a Gendercide of all men. One of their members seduced a handsome male actor and used him to assist them in their plot before Dredd arrests them.
  • Stronger Than They Look: Judge Death is an armored skeletal Judge who weighs a mere 67 kilos, but is strong enough to throw boulders into the air.
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • "The Forever Crimes," wherein a crook tries to escape from Dredd by making his way down a laundry chute, but it's actually a garbage disposal.
    • One group of criminals once tried to break into a room at Rowdy Yates Block that was marked off as a RESTRICTED AREA, reasoning that something really important and valuable had to be inside. The reason why it's a restricted area: It's Judge Dredd's apartment.
    • In yet another Dredd story, a criminal has plastic surgery to conceal his identity. Riding high in the knowledge that no-one could possibly catch him now, he says hello to Judge Dredd himself. Naturally, the Judges have voiceprint indentification on all known criminals.
  • Stupid Future People: Most citizens of Mega-City One are right morons. For example, when there was a vote on whether to return the city to democracy or continue the rule of the Judges, many couldn't even figure out what the issue was or how to vote.
  • Subverted Kids Show: There's a comic in which a kid's show host finds out that his wife (who played another onscreen character) is cheating with one of his assistants. He proceeds to teach the kids how to throttle someone to death on live air, before Dredd bursts into the studio and arrests everyone.
  • Sucksessor: Judge Kraken, another Fargo clone from the story arc "Necropolis." As Kraken's final examiner, Dredd himself ruled against enlisting Kraken before taking the Long Walk, but Chief Judge Silver felt that the city would continue to need a "Dredd" to patrol the streets due to his status as a symbol for the law. It ended in a catastrophe as Kraken was brainwashed by the Sisters of Death to release the Dark Judges, then Mind Raped by Judge Death into becoming his personal puppet and forced to participate in their slaughter. In the end Kraken is so broken by what they've made him do that he calmly accepts his execution at Dredd's hands, as he didn't want to live anymore.
  • Suicide by Cop:
    • One citizen, having converted to the Cat'lic religion and given an implant designed to manipulate his behaviour to that of a fundamentalist for his wife, finds that after she dies, he has no reason to live due to having disowned all his friends at the wedding. Since suicide is a sin, he begins training himself to go up against the one man guaranteed to kill him, Judge Dredd. It's subverted, though, as Dredd manages to arrest him and arrange to have the implant removed so that the man can serve his cube sentence, for which he is grateful.
    • Played straight by several other citizens. A particularly depressing example was a young pro-Democracy terrorist who wanted to reform, but his comrades killed his lover and put a hit out on him. After disposing of his former allies he turns his gun on Dredd hoping to get killed. His wish is granted.
  • Super Cop:
    • While Dredd himself is not an example, being merely a very well-trained Badass Normal, the Justice Department have their own division of Psi-Judges, the most notable of which is Judge Anderson.
    • There's a What If? story where Joe Dredd himself was never cured of his lycantropy after his encounter with a pack of werewolves. His Heroic Willpower allows him to regain control over his wolf form and he becomes a crimefighter in the Undercity.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: No, not Dredd himself, since he doesn't really take any of his past enmities personal enough to even consider collecting supervillain trophies. However, the Justice Department as a whole maintains the Black Museum, which houses mementos to some of the most infamous criminals they've faced. This includes Mean Machine Angel's robotic arm, Sov-Judge armor, the heart of serial killer PJ Maybe, the dimension globes of the Dark Judges, and the brain of mad Chief Judge Cal.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: The Dark Judges include Judge Fear, who can compel anyone to stare at his unmasked face and see their greatest fear, usually inducing a lethal heart attack. It didn't work so well on Dredd himself, though:
    Judge Fear: Gaze into the face of fear!
    Judge Dredd: Gaze into the fist of Dredd!
  • Supervillain Lair:
    • The headquarters of the Dark Judges is the Dark Hall of Justice, an Alternate Universe counterpart of Mega-City One's Grand Hall of Justice. It used to be where they organized the omnicidal murges of their planet that left it devoid of life, but they occasionally go back to regroup since entering Dredd's dimension. Features a lot of Bizarchitecture, a nifty throne room, and a bone-littered courtyard marked by a memorial statue of Judge Death carrrying out the last execution.
    • In fact, the Dark Hall is simply Judge Death's personal lair. The other three Dark Judges are shown to have their own fortresses—Judge Fear for instance has a rather imposing-looking castle covered with Spikes of Villainy on the inside and outside.
  • Surveillance Drone: There are a lot of surveillance drones hovering around Mega City One so that the Judges can spy on the people.
  • Suspiciously Clean Criminal Record: In one chapter, the Judges do a random sweep of citizens' apartments and become highly suspicious when one person turns out not only to have zero violations in his apartment, but has never broken any of Mega-City One's laws in the past. Note that the Meg is such an oppressive hellhole that it's practically impossible for someone to not break any. Powdered sugar and caffeine are illegal.
  • Swallow the Key: Judge Dredd does this in the comic where he fights the devil.
  • Swarm of Rats: The Cursed Earth has swarms of intelligent rats with a lethally poisonous bite - AND they can fly.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Lawgiver pistol.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: A small number of the murderers that Judge Dredd has faced had some sort of understandable motive for their crimes. For instance, Nate Slaughterhouse was an ex-Space Marine cyborg who had settled with his wife and daughter in Mega-City One, but soon lost both of them to the city's astronomically violent nature. He finally snaps and goes on a one-man killing spree against all criminals.
  • The Syndicate: The earliest known crime syndicates during Mega-City One's heyday were the Ape Gang and the Mega-City Mafia, which operated alongside smaller sector-wide crime syndicates such as the Danforth Syndicate, while various other organisations such as the Frendz Mob and the Syndicate also occasionally gained dominance in the underworld. Several Mega-Cities such as the Pan Andes Conurb, Cuidad Barranovilla and Vegas City also had their crime syndicates act as the law within their jurisdiction, while others such as Sino-Cities and Brit-Cit had them either having already infiltrated the Justice system from the very beginning and/or had most of their Government and senior Judges on their payroll. Other cities and locations with their own dominant criminal organisation include an unnamed one based on Luna City One, the Hondo-City Yakuza, the Hong Tong Triads and Efil Drago San's Brit-Cit based organisation.
  • Synthetic Plague: There have been many instances in the comic where hostile factions resorted to biological warfare by spreading lab-manufactured diseases among enemy populations. The worst one was probably the Chaos Bug, a Hate Plague designed by leftover factions of East Meg One that started an epidemic in Mega City One resulting in the death of about 7/8th of the population.

    T 
  • Tailor-Made Prison: After the Necropolis disaster and with no way to permanently destroy the non-living Dark Judges, they were held in a specially built, high-security containment unit by Justice Department. The spirits themselves were placed in nigh-indestructible, glasseen crystal tubes buried deep underground, which were secured in turn by multiple quarantine layers, and manned by robotic guards in the innermost layer to deny them living hosts. It's said that a nuke could have directly hit the facility and kept the foursome imprisoned. The only times they have escaped since is due to help on the inside.
  • Take That!: The "Adjudicators" arc in the Megazine pisses all over Marvel's concept of superheroes. That is, that superheroes empower the masses by inspiring them to become greater (this is why so many of Marvel's heroes can be read as "normal person who just happens to be a superhero). Judge Dredd shouts to a mass of people who were cheering on the Adjudicators (Superhero Judges who were The Avengers Expys) and tells them that they don't need powers, capes, or code names. They just need to grow up.
  • Take Me Instead: Subverted in Dark Justice when Judge Dredd offers himself up to Judge Death in exchange for letting his hostage go. Death just murders her anyway and moves on Dredd, figuring he can have them both.
  • Take Over the City: There have been several villains who have tried to take over Mega-City One as their main goal. Some have succeeded, albeit temporarily. However, because the Mega Cities are so massively huge it's more Take Over The Country in practice.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Parodied when Dredd is called in to talk down an obese man who threatens to jump off a roof. Through a megaphone he shouts that he's got more than enough criminals to deal with, and threatens to shoot the guy off because suicide is illegal.
  • Talk to the Fist: "Gaze into the fist of Dredd!" This is also one of Dredd's favorite responses to lippy creeps.
  • Tank Goodness: Justice Department tanks are friggin' huge. They're rarely used outside of military conflicts however, since the Judges are still primarily a police force.
  • Tautological Templar: Multiple Judges, including Dredd Depending on the Writer.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Human taxidermy is perfectly legal in Mega-City One and is considered a valid alternative to cremation or burial. (Obviously, murdering people before you stuff them is still considered murder and thus illegal.) Some people find it disturbing nonetheless.
  • Tear Off Your Face: Judge Fear demonstrates this when possessing a resistance fighter as his new host body, reaching somewhere down his throat to present the man's torn off, lathery face.
  • Technologically Advanced Foe: In a Dark Judges story published in New Scientist, the murdering foursome accidentally end up in a far future Earth due to a black hole interfering with their dimensional teleporters. The entire planet now consists of an impervious Hive Mind of Silver-Surfer-esque metahumans. Cue the Dark Judges getting their asses handed to them since the inhabitants can't experience pain, fear, or death, until Judge Death tricks them so he can infect their hivemind with the Dead Fluids and wipe out the entire collective.
  • Terrible Ticking: In a strip paying Homage to The Tell-Tale Heart, a jealous man who kills and steals the heart from the lover of a woman whom he adores from afar is driven insane by the sound of his victim's still-beating heart, which he then decides to get rid of by returning the body part to the woman in person (and, consequently, completely freaking her out).
  • Theatre Phantom: "Phantom of the Shoppera" features a phantom that hits all the marks, except for haunting a shopping mall instead of a theatre. It's also a robot.
  • The Theme Park Version: The comic has been criticised for using national stereotypes for all countries other than the United States (including Britain, interestingly). A couple, particularly Britain and Japan, have since been fleshed out somewhat due to a number of spinoffs taking place in them. Ireland takes the trope to its logical extreme, by being literally one big theme park.
  • There Should Be a Law: The phrase is used on various occasions in stories in varying contexts, almost always with a Judge around to respond, "There is," every time.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: It's a fundamental law of the setting that, except for extremely rare programmed exceptions that almost never appear legally anymore, robots can't harm humans — the first multi-prog story arc involved a damaged carpenter droid who was able to break this law, and began corrupting other robots to engage in a Robot War. In Mechanismo, a group of criminals holding people hostage start panicking when a Robo-Judge approaches them only for one to point out that "Robots ain't allowed to hurt people".
    Robot Judge: In that case, what's about to happen will come as something of a shock to you. (Blasts said kidnapper in the face with a rocket launcher)
  • Throne Made of X: Judge Death has a throne made out of human bones on his homeworld.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: Inverted in a story. The supervillain Judge Death escapes from prison and wants to return to the Alternate Universe he originated from so he steals a teleporter and kidnaps the scientist who invented it. He winds up in the right location, only in a past rendition of his homeworld where he hadn't completed his Evil Plan yet.
  • Time Police: In the stories "Dead Zone" and "Breaking Bud", time travellers from the 28th century are revealed to visit 22nd century Mega City One. The time agents get involved when one of their futuristic wristband devices goes missing and turns up again in the hands of a fugitive from the Cursed Earth.
  • Time Machine: Time travel technology was invented by scientists in the 22nd century, first showing up in "City of The Damned". It has sporadically appeared since then. Johnny Alpha (who lives in the 23rd century) also uses his own transportable time travel device to visit Dredd's time during Crossover stories.
  • Time Travel: There have been a bunch of time travel stories. Officially, Strontium Dog is supposed to be set a century or so after Judge Dredd, so any crossovers would involve Johnny Alpha traveling to the past. Judge Dredd and Anderson also visited a Bad Future in "City of the Damned" through time travel. One time when Judge Death escaped, he tried to return to his original dimension, but wound up in the past by mistake because the scientist he took hostage hadn't properly tested the device.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: When Dredd tries to expose mad Judge Cal's corruption in "The Day the Law Died", one of Cal's guards shoots Dredd through his brain. He requires some surgery afterwards, but he's tough enough to shrug it off without any lasting damage.
  • Title Drop: "Death Lives" has the title spoken aloud by Death's three killer cousins after they restore his body.
  • Together in Death: After the Apocalypse War wiped out half of the Big Meg, a comatose patient remained alive for 8 years because his life support system continued to run as an independent unit after the hospital was destroyed. His wife's body was still sitting at his bedside when she died in the blast, but her ghost remained trapped in the ruins. When Dredd and Anderson find the patient on a routine check through the area and conclude that they can't take him back due to the years of radiation exposure, they turn off the unit. The man and wife are then reunited in the afterlife.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Given its penchant for blacker than black humor, it's not surprising that the comic has a lot of these: A Zombie Apocalypse triggering undead necromancer named "Soppi Walters" (though he prefers "Sabbat the Necromagus"); a psychotic serial killer named "Philip Janet Maybe", and an undead demonic deathbringer who calls himself Judge Death but is in fact named Sidney.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Although it's partly due to Never Live It Down, Judge Dredd is actually a lot more compassionate and idealistic in the early progs than he eventually becomes. This is justified In-Universe by the fact Dredd has, since those early days, seen far-reaching corruption amongst the Judges and been through multiple terrible events, such as the reign of Judge Cal, the successive invasions by both East Meg and the Dark Judges, and a zombie plague.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: On the other hand, Dredd has fought for mutant rights and applied the law to help innocent citizens caught in a bind. He also shows some compassion for his niece.
  • The Tooth Hurts: In the story "Dark Justice", Judge Dredd smashes up Judge Death's teeth during a fight. However, since he's a zombie he can't feel pain, so all it does is annoy him.
  • Toppled Statue: In "Day of Chaos", the colossal Statue of Judgement (which symbolically dwarfs the Statue of Liberty in the series) is toppled by the forces attacking Mega-City One. It's not just symbolic in this case—the statue was the headquarters of the Judges' surveillance and electronic tracking activities and its destruction creates many blind spots in the city.
  • Torso with a View: Batman tried blasting through Judge Mortis's chest in a crossover comic, but he still kept coming.
  • Tradesnark™: The strips that introduce Boing® refer to the name of the product exactly like that.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Exactly what training at the Academy of Law is like. A fifteen year program beginning at the age of five, cadets are expected to learn the basics of the Law very quickly. To best replicate city street conditions in training courses, only live ammunition and explosives are used. Assuming a cadet even survives, making the smallest mistake in training results in his/her expulsion - no matter how long they've been in training. Only two out of every seven cadets ever graduate from the Academy, and that's before their final assessment (frequently nicknamed, "the hotdog run") in which the graduated cadet has to earn the satisfaction of a serving Judge (this may or may not involve a Secret Test of Character). Only after the serving Judge is happy with a cadet (IF they're happy with a cadet) can he/she finally earn a full badge and begin active duty.

      Since Day Of Chaos has left the department, and the city as a whole, depleted, standards for the Full Eagle appear to have dropped. Dredd notes this in several cases where he's assigned young partners who are clearly not up to the task. It's gotten to the point where Mega City One has begun to recruit judges from other megacities as retrainees.
    • The Law Academy in the dimension that the Dark Judges hailed from is even worse. Primarily because a cadet in Joe Dredd's dimension, should they fail their evaluations, are simply kicked out of the academy and become citizens; on Deadworld they would have been shot. No surprise, since they were trained to become effective killers and torturers more than simply cops trying to keep the peace. It was apparently pretty standard for tutors to mutilate their students in order to raise morale.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: The Dark Judges tend to possess people solely to asssist them in finding new corpses for their spirits to occupy after the destruction of the previous one, but Judge Mortis once possessed the Chief Judge and directly decayed his body into the cow-skulled monster that he is.
  • Trend Aesop: Dredd has inspired tons of these in its approximately 30 years of existence, as the comic takes place in a future dystopia where most humans are practically permanently unemployed and take up unusual hobbies, trends, and activities to pass the time. A lot of them end up being banned or heavily regulated by Justice Dept. after a problem arises because of it; notable examples include:
    • Boinging. The miracle plastic spray Boing was a substance that would expand itself over whatever it was sprayed on, engulfing it in a giant, bouncing ball and allowing people chances to engage in various fun activities like shooting down crazy tube slides and playing pinball games as the ball. People would also start using it outdoors, bouncing like crazy across building structures and roads, creating a lot of property damage in the process. Justice Dept. had to issue a law to restrict the Boing's usage.
    • Otto Sump tried to start a beauty clinic but ended up making his patrons hideously ugly. Customer's unsatisfied, he rebranded his business as an ugly clinic and, with the help of a beautiful celebrity who wanted to look as horrible as Sump, helped turn ugliness into a fashion all its own and became extremely popular, until Dredd decided to crack down on Sump's business for using Dredd's image for publicity and believing that his products are a danger to the health of citizens, ruling to heavily tax them after mass demonstrations of people demand they have a right to be ugly. As a result, this only remains a trendy fashion amongst the extremely rich.
    • The same plot was recycled when Otto Sump came out with his new line of delicious food products, Gunge. Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds with food names like "Mold Jam", "Slime Sauce", "Bacteria Soup", "Maggot Steak", etc. His logic was that following the food shortages as a result of the Apocalypse War, people can look to his trash slop as a healthy source for nutrition. Justice Dept. effectively bans Gunge... and then rebrands the exact same trash as Foodstuff A, B, C, etc. for the people to eat to combat the food shortages.
    • Blob was a fashion trend created by a Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club as a way to make their activities easier. The idea was to create the perfect, unidentifiable criminal by erasing every physical feature from a person's face with the aid of face-changing machine, replacing his voice with an electronic scrambler, and dressing him in a single, identifiable outfit... then they present it as the next big thing so that large quantities of people in Mega-City One look like the same featureless blob that no one can tell apart from another, thus allowing their own criminals (also unrecognizable blobs) to commit crimes while not being able to be identified. Massive confusion ensues as no one is sure who people around them are, forcing the Judges step in and decide that anyone partaking in the blob fashion trend has to have an ID number printed on their foreheads so it's easy to tell who is who... and let Judges figure out which blobs are committing crimes.
    • And last, but not least, Simping. The entire purpose of the fashion is to dress as ridiculously and absurdly as possible and get noticed for it. The simp in that picture is dressing like that to his wedding. Things do not go very well for him.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The judicial system of Hong Tong (the future Hong Kong) has been largely infiltrated and taken over by Triads, much as the Hondo-Cit (Japan) Judges were overtaken by the Yakuza.
  • Trick Bullet:
    • During The Apocalypse War, Judge Dredd gets an armourer to reduce the charge of a standard execution round to penetrate his badge and an inch of flesh only so he can fake his suicide. It works, but the charge is still stronger than intended and ends up pressing on his heart, weakening him and making escape from the Grand Hall of Justice more difficult.
    • The Lawgiver's Abnormal Ammo. While canonically, the six rounds are Standard, Armour Piercing, Incendiary, Ricochet, Heat Seeker and Hi-Ex, some writers add different types such as marker shells, stumm gas rounds and electronic tagging rounds.
  • Tron Lines: The Sov agent Dmitri in "Day of Chaos" wore a black uniform with glowing blue highlights.
  • Truly Single Parent: Dredd and his brother Rico were both cloned from Chief Judge Fargo. Dredd himself has been cloned to varying degrees of success.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Dredd's first ever multi-part story arc featured the Robot Rebellion led by Call-Me-Kenneth; defective robots who disobey orders and go on murderous rampages has been an occasional theme ever since.
  • TV Head Robot: Walter the Wobot.
  • Two out of Three Ain't Bad: In "America", the rebellious America Jara points out during a college lecture she's attending that the Judges of Mega-City One have taken away almost all the principles that the old America was founded on: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" has become a dark joke. The teacher sheepishly says that at least they're still alive, and 1 out of 3 isn't bad. And after the "Day of Chaos" arc, even that concession has become a bit questionable...
  • Tyke Bomb: Cadets are inducted into the Academy Of Law at a very young age and spend the next fifteen years (or thirteen if fast tracked) training to be a judge. The Corps spinoff states that the ones with high combat scores at the expense of discretion get taken from the academy at the ages of around eight to ten to be trained as SpaceMarines.
  • Typhoid Mary: The "Day of Chaos" features several of the Big Bad's agents infected with the "Chaos Bug" being sent into Mega-City One to infect as many people as possible.
  • Tyrannicide: Double subverted. In the backstory the Judges rise up against President Evil Bob Booth for starting a nuclear war by invoking the U.S. constitution's pre-ambles against tyranny. After they capture him they can't bring themselves to execute the last President however, so they sentence him to 100 years suspended animation instead. Dredd sentences him again to hard labor after the President wakes up, then finally passes sentence of death on Booth a few decades later after he tries to overthrow the Justice Department one last time.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: The post of Chief Judge has been usurped by would-be tyrants at least twice.
    • Judge Cal was the corrupt chief of the Special Judicial Squad who assassinated his predecessor Chief Judge Goodman to take over his position. He quickly becomes The Caligula during his tenure as Chief Judge, passing ridiculous decrees like outlawing happiness, making his goldfish Deputy Chief, and trying to execute the whole city twice.
    • Judge Sinfield, while much more sane than Cal, was an unscrupulous careerist who resorted to brainwashing his direct superior while he was deputy to become the new Chief Judge by default. His hardline stance on the mutant issue and general corruption brought him in conflict with Dredd, who eventually decided to run against Sinfield as a candidate.

    U 
  • Unbuilt Trope: Judge Dredd seems like an obvious candidate as a proto-'90s Anti-Hero, debuting in 1977 and clearly inspired by Cowboy Cops such as Dirty Harry. Judge Dredd is a violent and gritty Judge, Jury, and Executioner who enforces the laws of a dystopian future police state, has acquired a massive bodycount over the years, and tends to fight enemies who are even worse them himself. However, Judge Dredd is far less one-dimensional than popular culture portrays him as: even in the early comics, he was clearly a By-the-Book Cop who takes "protect the innocent and uphold the law" very seriously, and abhorred corruption and wanton violence. After the "Democracy" arc, he actually resigned when he lost faith in the Justice system.
  • Uncoffee: Synthi-Caff is the Big Meg's alternative to coffee after both caffeine and sugar are outlawed. Synthi-Caff itself even ends up becoming illegal at one point, requiring a synthetic version of that to be produced.
  • Undead Abomination: The Sisters of Death are spectral, psychic, extremely powerful extradimensional entities which appear as rotting, vaguely female corpses in their spirit forms. Whatever they really are, their morality revolves around the inherent sinfulness of life and thus seek to exterminate all of it. However, their "project" the Dark Judges, who are equally monstrous and messed up, were former humans.
  • Undead Barefooter: A noticeable difference between the regular Judges and their bizarro undead Evil Counterpart the Dark Judges is that while the former wear big fascist-type boots, the latter are all barefooted to make them look more like cadavers.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Subverted. The Dark Judges are seemingly destroyed in their second appearance when Judge Anderson channels the energy of their millions of victims to destroy their spirits for good. It later turns out they were only weakened and are soon back up to their usual killing spree.
  • Under City: New York has become this. Mega City One is built on top of it and several others. It's a very nasty place that no sane person would want to venture into, being filled with mutant tribes, monsters (including werewolves), and even Xenomorphs.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Subverted in a story when Dredd inspects a Penal Colony in the Cursed Earth where standards under the new warden have dropped considerably and the prisoners have free rein. Their leader claims to be an undercover Judge in the warden's office, which Dredd "accepts" for the moment while he does a background check. He knew that Dredd would find out the truth anyway, he was just stalling for time.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Played with when the Dark Judges brainwash a woman to become a helpless slave so they can use her as a psychic bridge to Mega City One to start their Necropolis. In her dreams they hold a mock ceremony where she elopes with Judge Death (who's a walking corpse, by the way) and affirm the unholy matrimony by murdering her actual husband. As soon as she outlives her usefulness, they kill her.
  • United Europe: Europe is usually said to have two different Mega Cities: Brit Cit and Euro Cit.note  So, the Britons are still independent, but the rest of the continent (or whatever's left of it after the Great Atomic War) is implied to be unified in one polity.
  • The Un Reveal: Dredd's face is obscured from the readers in a similar fashion in the original comics, using bandages, panel borders, darkness and the like. As an additional kicker, criminals that do see his face invariably die soon afterwards, keeping his looks a secret even within the story.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Lawgiver. If anyone apart from its registered user attempts to use it, it'll explode, taking their hand with it. This can be bypassed, however, either by disconnecting the grip sensors (information that only Senior Judges, such as Dredd, have access to) or by the simpler method of removing the owner's hand (or at least the skin from the owner's palm) and using that to operate the weapon.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Dredd himself has been turned into an object of worship at least once by a Mega City One cult. He had to arrest the whole faith (prompting them to turn on their savior as an "impostor") to dissuade them of any delusions about his supposed divinity.
  • Uplifted Animal: Experiments resulted in a group of apes as intelligent as humans that speak English, and who were eventually given human rights and their own ghetto in Mega-City One. Some of them went on to form a criminal gang, led by the chimpanzee Don Uggie.
  • Urban Hellscape: It was built on this trope, as the purpose of the eponymous "Judges" is to bring order to the chaotic urban Hellscape of Mega City One.
  • Urban Segregation: In Ciudad Barranquila, there is rather stark segregation between the poor extorted majority living in the slums and the higher class districts occupied by the corrupt Judge Supremo and his cronies.
  • Used Future: In Dredd's world, anything that hasn't already been destroyed in nuclear war is this.
  • Use Your Head:
    • Mean Machine Angel... all the damn time.
    • Dredd's been known to do this on occasion. The helmet helps.
  • Uterine Replicator: Joseph Dredd and the rest of his clones were developed in these. They were artificially aged to about 5 years, then aged normally from that point on.
  • Utility Belt: Dredd and the other Judges wear them, and they are even addressed as such. Contents include spare ammo, handcuffs and other general police-work equipment, as well as more comic-booky gadgetry such as gas grenades and cling lines.

    V 
  • The 'Verse: In addition to the main Judge Dredd strip, the "Dreddverse" consists of countless spin-offs, including Psi-Judge Anderson, Judge Hershey, The Simping Detective, and Lowlife, as well as otherwise stand-alone strips such as Devlin Waugh, Robo-Hunter, and Armitage and many, many more. In fact, this was the original point of the Judge Dredd Megazine. While many spinoffs (most notably, Tales From The Black Museum) do still print in the Meg, it does also print original stories, making this an Artifact Title.
  • Veteran Instructor: Street Judges who have been injured/wounded in ways that leave them no longer useful to serve on active duty are often given teaching posts at the Academy of Law to train young cadets to be future Judges. Older Judges with good performance records who stay on the force past their prime may sometimes be given the option to teach at the Academy as an alternative to The Long Walk.
  • Vice City: Mega City One.
  • Video Phone: Commonplace in Dredd's world, including Spin-Off stories, where they're frequently called VidPhones. Models vary, sometimes having mic stands, ordinary phone receivers, or no visible microphones or speakers at all.
  • Vigilante Man: Nate Slaughterhouse becomes one when his son is murdered and his wife disappears. Being a military cyborg has huge advantages for him on this one, especially when he assaults a crime lord's mansion with a Humongous Mecha.
  • Villain Cred: In Heavy Metal Dredd, a wannabe criminal tries to make a name for himself by being the one person who's bad enough to kill Judge Dredd. Obviously, since this is Dredd we're talking about, this turns into an Epic Fail. Doesn't stop him from trying at least two more times with similar results.
  • Villain Decay:
    • Judge Death slowly became a Black Comedy figure after "Necropolis", until "My Name Is Death" re-established him as a threat by having him slaughter children and killing Anderson.
    • Mean Machine Angel has this happen to him also, eventually being released from the cubes when his dial is finally surgically removed and he is left with the mind of a child. Dredd even lampshades this.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: At the end of "Necropolis", the Dark Judges are recaptured by Justice department and placed in high security containment. With the exception of Judge Death, who takes a dive into city bottom after getting cornered and disappears. It's later revealed that he hid himself among the buried corpses for several months to rest and plan for his next assault on the Big Meg.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • Many people, including some of the writers and artists who have made him so popular, would argue that Dredd is one of these. To everyone else, he's just a particularly cynical antihero... or an asshole.
    • Some stories feature Judge Death as the protagonist, as he goes around murdering everything in sight on his quest to destroy the human race.
    • Elusive psychopathic serial killer PJ Maybe is the focus character of quite a lot of the stories he appears in.
    • Various one shot villains (or Anti Villains depending on the story) are the focus of the story with Dredd as a Hero Antagonist. Notable examples are Bennett Beeny, Nate Slaughterhouse and Marlon "Chopper" Shakespeare.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: The main character of the "Fall of Deadworld" storyline, Judge Fairfax, was once an acolyte of Judge Death, who still wants to recruit him as one of his lieutenants after they had a falling out. Fairfax just wants to ride out the apocalypse.
  • Villain Teleportation: In the Dark Judges' third appearance, they used teleportation devices brought back from their own dimension to jump all over Mega City One to spread their lethal brand of justice and keep the Judges from interfering.
  • Villain World:
    • In the storyline "Helter Skelter", a group of Judge Dredd's past enemies, led by the tyrannical Chief Judge Cal, invade Dredd's dimension. They all originate from Alternate Universes where they had each individually killed Dredd and created their own version of a Villain World where they ruled supreme, but knowing that there was a universe where Dredd had beaten them was enough for them to team up against him.
    • Judge Dredd's Arch-Enemy Judge Death hails from his own villain world called Deadworld, an Alternate Universe where the Judges were even more ruthless than in Dredd's. Their brutal rule culminated in the rise of the Dark Judges, four particularly murderous law enforcers who considered life itself to be the source of all crime, who used dark magic to become undead monsters and destroy civilization.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: In a prequel story it is shown that Judge Fire tracked down two Dark Judges who had gone rogue, one of whom was a female colleague that he was infatuated with. When he confronts them, he kills her sycophantic subordinate on the grounds that "love is a crime".
  • Visual Pun: Judge Dredd never being seen without his helmet. "Justice is blind", anyone?
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Judge Dredd visited Las Vegas in the "Cursed Earth" arc, where he travelled through post-apocalyptic America to deliver a cure to the West Coast. The city was run by a corrupt Judge force before Dredd ousted them from power and outlawed gambling. Several years after he left they deposed the guy he put in charge and returned to the old system, but then Judge Death destroyed the entire city.
  • Void Between the Worlds: For every functioning alternate dimension, there are a thousand others which are nothing but endless nothingness, so finding the right one without the proper set of a coordinates is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Judge Anderson makes good use of this by trapping the Dark Judges there after their latest rampage in the Mega City.
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    W 
  • Wacky Racing: The Supersurf contest is a dangerous and deadly obstacle course held annually for professional sky surfers.
  • Walking the Earth: When a Judge retires from active duty on the streets of Mega-City-One, the Judge must leave the city and take "The Long Walk" into either the Cursed Earth or the Undercity where their duty is to bring law to the lawless for as long as they keep living.
  • War Is Hell: Dredd shoves a smarmy reporter's mike in his mouth to deliver the message.
  • Wardens Are Evil: "Purgatory" storyline features Khurtz, warden of Titan, who enjoys torturing and breaking the former Judges in his care.
  • Was Once a Man:
    • The Mutant, a hideous multi-limbed...thing from an alternate future timeline where he tortured and killed Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson, as well as destroyed Mega City One, ruling over the ruins along with the now corrupted and mutated judges. He is actually Owen Crysler from The Judge Child storyline
    • Another comic revolves around a man who is secretly given a serum based on dinosaur DNA by his upstairs neighbor, a Mad Scientist who slips it into his food. He ends up slowly devolving into a hideous reptile man, and eats and kills his wife and the scientist before Dredd is forced to kill him.
    • Judge Death started out as human before he met the Sisters of Death, who transformed him into the undead monster we know him as now. When his fellow Dark Judges see the results, they ask for the same to be done to them.
    • There's a rare genetic mutation which will slowly turn the afflicted person into a human-sized spider. Played for Drama in one comic when a woman with the condition is abandoned by her husband, Played for Laughs in another one when the test results of two patients are accidentally mixed.
    • After the massive jailbreak on the Titan prison, the survivors eventually come back as some sort of ice mutants. They can morph back to their human forms, but whatever they were turned into by the subterranean moon spiders, it's no longer human.
  • Weather-Control Machine:
    • Justice Dept. has a Weather Control division. They went on the fritz after suffering damage during the Apocalypse War, making the climate shift rapidly between snow storms and heat waves. The low visibility in particular worked to the advantage of the hit-and-run tactics carried out by Judge Dredd's guerilla forces against the invading East Meggers.
    • Deadworld also used to have machines to regulate the weather. The Dark Judges commandeered them to poison the population and kill off the biosphere.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Medical and cybernetic technology has advanced sufficiently that critically wounded judges and soldiers can be rebuilt as cyborgs. Notably, Nate Slaughterhouse is left as little more than a head and one shoulder before he is rebuilt as a mandroid.
  • We Help the Helpless: Dredd once went to a Mutant Town that was going to be hit by a massive spawn of Spiders, simply because they asked for help, ignoring the skepticism of a pair of fellow Judges, actually admonishing them for it. Moreover, his initial decision to aid Tweak in the "Cursed Earth" arc.
    Dredd: When someone calls on the Law for help...be he mutie...alien...cyborg...or human...the Law cannot turn a blind eye! AND I AM THE LAW!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The judge system itself. Fargo set it up so as to bypass the issues of juries being intimidated by gangs. Goodman lead the department to take over from Bad Bob Booth in order to end a nuclear war. However, America has lost many of its freedoms in order to have law and order. Justice has a price. The price is freedom.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Inverted; the wealthiest of Mega-City One actually stave off death by paying for a suspended animation chamber once their health deteriorates to a terminal level. Though euthanasia is an option, too.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: While there are diseases in the world of Judge Dredd (some very nasty), the common cold has been eliminated to the point that it is almost used as a biological weapon. Also, rejuvination treatments are a thing. Dredd himself is actually a very old man, but he still looks like a well-kept middle-aged one.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Mega-City One's currency, usually referred to as "creds."
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Averted (in Mega-City One, at least); virtually all labor in Dredd's city is performed by androids and robots. The few humans who do hold jobs are lucky to get a 10-hour work week. Unsurprisingly, the city boasts an extremely high unemployment level which accounts for a large portion of criminal activity in the city as well as the numerous bizarre fashions, hobbies, and trends that average citizens partake while coping with boredom. However, indentured servitude is common in other places in Dredd's world, especially in the Cursed Earth.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: In the "Trifecta" arc (a Crossover with Low Life and The Simping Detective), Judge Dredd is revealed to have been instrumental in setting up a counter-plot against the imminent coup d'etat attempt by the head of Black Ops against Chief Judge Hershey. Hershey herself and even one of Dredd's collaborators (through Laser-Guided Amnesia) were kept in the dark about this until the finale.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Day of Chaos story arc, which leaves 350 million (out of 400 million) citizens dead, the economy (and much of the city) in ruins and many Judges out of action.
    • Then there's the Origins story which drops this little bombshell: Judge Fargo, the first Judge and the one who Dredd and several others were cloned from, comes to the realization that the Judge's rule was wrong and was destroying the world. His last words to Dredd are that the Judge's rule must be reversed.
    • The Dead Man started as a seemingly unrelated Spin-Off set in the Cursed Earth written by someone named Keef Ripley. The heavily scarred protagonist is revealed to be Dredd and the strip leads into the Necropolis arc.
  • What If?: There's a short story that explores what would have happened if Judge Dredd hadn't been cured of his lyncantropy after he hunted down a pack of werewolves in "Cry of the Werewolf". He manages to regain control over his now permanently wolf-ified form through sheer Heroic Willpower, but because he can't patrol the streets looking like that anymore he takes the Long Walk back into the Under City to bring the law down there.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Dredd doesn't really understand why Galen would want to fraternize with a fellow Judge, or why he didn't report her like he was supposed to. At one point Dredd says that her need for love is just Daddy Issues; nothing that aversion therapy wouldn't cure. Galen is not impressed.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dredd himself is not a fan of this trope. He's since done a 180 on mutants. Well, mostly because of Judge Beeny. He befriended certain descendants of Judge Fargo, thus Dredd's own blood relatives, in the Cursed Earth during events in Origins. Dredd personally invited them to visit Mega-City-One at any time, and when they finally did show up to pay a visit, they were forbidden from entering the city for being mutants. For Dredd, this issue is personal on so many different levels. Damn near every other human character except possibly Judge Anderson is prejudiced against non-humans or mutants though.
  • Wheel of Decisions: The corrupt Judges of Las Vegas use a giant spinning wheel in the Hall of Justice (a repurposed casino) to determine the method of execution for arrested criminals. Of course, they take bets on it.
  • When Dimensions Collide: In the story "Helter Skelter", interdimensional travel by supervillains from other universes starts to fracture the fabric of reality, causing elements from different dimensions to bleed over into each other. One alternate dimension in particular is referenced that collided completely with another one, merging the two into a never-ending World of Chaos.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?:
    • Nate Slaughterhouse, an ex-Space Marine turned Cyborg after losing most of his body in an explosion, manages to escape from confinement without any limbs at all.
    • When the evil zombie-Judge Mortis is reduced to nothing but a torso and one arm during Chaos Day, he is still mobile enough to grab Judge Logan's arm and necrotise it.
  • Who's on First?: Comic artist Kenny Who? (The question mark is actually part of his last name).
    Editor: All with way from Cal Hab, Mr. Er...?
    Kenny: Who?
    Editor: What?
    Kenny: Who?
    Editor: That's what I'm asking you.
    Kenny: Who? is my name.
    Editor: No—You should say, "What is my name?"
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: "Who judges the Judges" cropped up as graffiti throughout the "America" storyline. The issue of who judges the Judges is a recurring theme in the comic, most particularly in the democracy arc. Meanwhile, the SJS has found itself in need of judgment in such stories as "The Day the Law Died!", when SJS head Judge Cal assassinates the Chief Judge to take over and turns into an insane despot, and "The Pit", where the SJS in a specific sector have become so corrupt that Dredd is sent in to clean house. In "Trifecta" it's revealed that after Cal's misrule the former head of Black Ops, Judge Smiley, went undercover in case a new threat may arise from within the department. As he put it, he's a Judge to judge the Judges who judge the Judges.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him??: Dredd in Destiny's Angels had Mean Machine Angel brainwashed into thinking that Dredd was his dead dad Elmer to help guide him through the Cursed Earth to retrieve a valuable cargo of cloned judge babies. When the effects of the brainwashing wore off, Mean was furious and attacked Dredd but Dredd decides to take him on hand to hand feeling a debt for having gotten as far as they did-something he could not have done without Mean's help. When Mean clearly starts owning Dredd in a fight, Dredd realizes he only has one option, and shoots Mean in the knees disabling him.
  • Wicked Witch: Mega-City One has been attacked by the Sisters of Death several times, who combine the wicked witch archetype with Eldritch Abomination. As allies of the Dark Judges (and the ones responsible for turning them into living dead), they're undead spirits who consider life itself a crime and whose powers are so vast that they took over most of the Judge force and blacked out the sun.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Since Judge Dredd started his career, the world has been through multiple atomic wars, invasions from other worlds and dimensions, pandemics, and even a Zombie Apocalypse. Most of these are localized threats, but the only reason the Earth isn't an uninhabited wasteland yet is because the Mega Cities are so huge.
  • World of Silence: The goal of the Dark Judges is to create "a world fit only for the innocent". A world where there is no crime, no evil thoughts, and no life. They reasoned that since only the living can commit crime, life itself must be the greatest crime.
    Judge Death: You can't argue with statistics! On our world there is no robbery, no murder. No noisy parties to disturb the neighbors. No neighbors. No evil in the hearts of men. No crime.
  • Would Hurt a Child: ALL the Dark Judges are willing to murder children, given their whole "life is a crime" philosophy. Notably, Judge Fire burning down a primary school with everyone inside (earning him the nickname) when he was still human, Judge Mortis pursuing a group of juvie Judges like some undead Implacable Man during Necropolis, Fear forcing a child on board the Mayflower to gaze into his face and Judge Death going on a killing spree in an orphan shelter to draw out Judge Anderson.
  • Wretched Hive: Mega-City One is permanently suffering from criminals with military-grade weaponry. One might be able to go so far as to say EVERY Mega-City is one of these.
  • Wrote the Book: Literally. Dredd has written a guide for judges known as Dredd's Comportment, which is required reading for all cadet judges.

    X 
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The comic includes an invasive alien species known as Raptaurs, which are prime Xenomorph copies: long, elongated heads, black biomechanical skin made of silicone, semi-quadrupedal stance, etc. They're also somewhat intelligent, as Jack Point has trained one to act as an Attack Animal.

    Y 
  • Yandere: Judge Joe Dredd, who is a committed Celibate Hero, has had a stalker by the name of Bella Bagley. At first she was just a particularely delusional suitor who tried to jump off a building when Dredd declined. She returned several times to force Dredd to "admit his love" by taking hostages, before finally just attempting to stab him (mistaking one of Dredd's clone brothers for him) for rejecting her.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: When Judge Dredd is pursuing an escaped prisoner who just wants to return to his family on Christmas Eve, Dredd bangs his head. What appears to be the ghost of his dead brother Rico appears to berate Dredd's dedication to the law and tries to get him to give the perp a break on that most special of nights. Except Rico is nothing but a concussion-induced hallucination, and it turns out that they locked the man up because he's insane and ate his family.
  • You Are What You Hate: When Dredd busts the Neon Knights, an anti-robot hate group, their leader is unmasked — and then unmasked again, with Dredd removing the leader's apparent face to reveal that he's a cyborg driven by insecurity about whether he's still human.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Face of Fear is obscured by a helmet that the monster in question only opens to kill people with his Nightmare Face, but he doesn't actually have a real face. It's always reflecting the most deep-seated terror of the person who lays eyes upon it.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: The Dark Judges are incredibly hard to destroy for this reason. They tend to ignore Lawgiver gunfire completely (unless appropriately severe, like a hundred Judges at a time firing at will) and even incinerating their undead bodies inadvertently causes their spirits to break free. One of their Catch Phrases is "You cannot kill what does not live!"
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: Subverted. Whenever a perp or suspect refuses to talk and/or reveal pertinent information to Justice Dept., this stock phrase isn't so much a recognition of the perp's rights as much as it's a statement that Justice Dept. has other means of finding out what they want to know (usually involves someone from Psi Division reading the person's thoughts).
  • You Fool!: The Dark Judges love to call their opponents fools while boasting about their immortality per their "You cannot kill what does not live!" Catchphrase.
  • You Have Failed Me: Zigzagged in "No Future". When the Dark Judges accidentally wind up on the wrong planet due to a teleporter mishap, Judge Death sneers "You failed me, Mortis!" and proceeds to strangle his fellow Dark Judge until the latter can offer an explanation in apology. Since both master and minion in this scenario are actually zombies and thus immortal, it's not really clear what this would have accomplished beyond Death just trying to vent his anger.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Standard operating procedure for the Dark Judges. Since there are only four of them, they are fond of recruiting the regular Judge force to assist them in their mission to wipe out all life. Of course, this only means the Judges have bought themselves a temporary reprieve... ("Slaves should not turn on their masters!")
  • You're Insane!:
    • In "The Day the Law Died", the mad-as-a-nuthouse Chief Judge Cal is called out on being an insane dictator numerous times. He was liberal with the death sentence to anyone who brought this up.
    • When the formerly-human Judge Death executed his own mother by hurling her off a cliff, she shrieked that he'd gone completely mad. When he carried out the deed, she changed her accusation with her last words to "You're evil! EVIL!"
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Sisters Of Death have no physical form and appear using a psychic bridge. Dredd discovers this as The Dead Man.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The comic deconstructs the whole "Freedom Fighters" angle. Mega-City One is an authoritarian police state while the terrorists trying to overthrow it are democrats. While the Judges are hideously oppressive, extreme groups like Total War aren't really depicted as being in the right either.

    Z 
  • Zeerust:
    • Read some of the earlier strips. Computers using massive tape reels abound. One witness takes a picture with what is clearly a 1970s camera.
    • In some issues, the USSR is still alive and well.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: "The Beating" turns out to be this. Dredd is caught on camera beating a biker to death with his daystick. An outsourced section of the department attempts to use the footage to blackmail him into arresting the head of a rival company. Since Dredd doesn't give a drokk about his reputation, he outright ignores their demands and arrests the people responsible, who leak the footage anyway. Hershy publically states that the judge responsible was not Dredd and it turns out that the biker was an undercover judge and the daystick was a dummy stick, allowing the Wally squadder to take on a new assignment.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • The premise of the "Judgement Day" Story Arc. The villain Sabbat, a Necromancer Conqueror from the Future, raises all the dead in the world to consume the living. Several Mega Cities have to be nuked when they become overrun by zombies.
    • The Dark Judges have been shown to employ a slightly different version on occasion. Namely, introducing the "dead fluids" that they normally use to prepare their host bodies into a civilian population will turn those aflicted into half-dead, Ax-Crazy zombies.

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